Crowdfunding has been an interesting, unique, and growing model for creatives for many years, especially comic creators. This is great news since traditional publishing in the comics industry is a particularly difficult path to take. For starters, the Big Two (DC & Marvel) are BIG by a VERY BIG stretch. And unlike in so many other markets, what most creators who work for “the big two” do is essentially “work for hire”, an arrangement where they do not own any rights to their work. Therefore, they may create glorious work and they are left with no intellectual property at the end.
Additionally, you normally have to already be quite established to get in the front door at the big two, (although rumor has it that some ‘token hires’ and ‘paid trolls’ have managed to get on the payroll). And nowadays, there’s been a growing PC culture in the industry so become so pervasive that those creators who espouse conservative politics, Christian beliefs, or libertarian philosophies are squeezed out, or shown the door rather quickly, if they can even get through the door to begin with. This leaves many like-minded creators who also want to own their own work with two options: independent publishing companies or self-publishing.
At Bleeding Fool, we’ve been saying for a long time that independent comics is where it’s at these days, and the boom in crowdfunding comic books and comics-related projects has become so popular, that we actually began dedicating a weekly feature to crowdfunding comics called the Indie Comics Showcase from John Lemus along with our managing editor Chris Braly. The feature has become quite popular and has proven that the comics community is abundantly gifted with a wealth of talented and savvy indie creators. It’s also exposed several independent comics publishers with differing degrees of exposure and creator access.
Unfortunately, the number of publishers producing material is still very small compared to how many indie movie studios, book publishers, and record labels there are out there. So, if you can’t get in with one of the indies, you’re left with self-publishing, which while rewarding, can be extremely difficult, time consuming, and an expensive task. This is increasingly compounded by the fact that comics are still stuck in the dark ages of using a “Direct Market” system which makes you unable to get your product on shelves unless you go through a specific distributor.
Crowdfunding and self-fulfillment! And thankfully there are multiple platforms ready-made and commonly being used for crowdfunding these kinds of project! Perhaps you’ve heard of Kickstarter or Indiegogo? Of course you have, and these platforms only take a small percentage of the total earnings raised during any crowdfunding campaign before disbursement of funds into the creators’ business account, and then a percentage of that disbursement will be used to cover printing costs, rewards, packaging materials and shipping. And as a consumer, what better way to “vote with your dollars” than to literally pay creators to get the work you want out to the masses through crowdfunding? And nowadays, there’s a growing subculture of supportive comics communities of creators and readers helping one another.
Now, one group of allies has created a platform to take that support a step further.
Indiecron is an aggregate website that exclusively features and previews Comicsgate-related crowdfunding endeavors. Edwin Boyette and others launched the website in 2018 to give attention to the myriad of Comicsgate-affiliated creators who were never going to be featured in the mainstream press because of the unwarranted baggage associated with the “Comicsgate” label. In other words, a “Comicsgate Hub,” or at least a Comicsgate-centric nerve center for crowdfunding comic book projects.
The site uses Indiegogo’s API to track and sort individual Indiegogo campaigns which allows users to stay up to date with information regarding each ComicsGate-related project, tracking such details as a campaign’s current status (active, in-demand, fulfilled, closed), what its total funding is, what the campaign goal is, how many backers its gotten, the average contribution, what genre, who the creators are, and more. The website also serves as a historical record or sorts, which contains archives of completed campaigns that were listed and have concluded their projects.
Currently, the website is only able to incorporate Indiegogo projects because of the algorithm being made available to them. Kickstarter doesn’t make that information public. Thankfully, Indiegogo happens to be one of the most popular donation-based crowdfunding websites and coincidentally Indiegogo has looser guidelines than Kickstarter, letting many users fund campaigns that Kickstarter might not
I recently spoke with Edwin Boyette, a sometime contributor here, and the manager of Indiecron recently about the website and his general thoughts on the Comicsgate movement overall:
Chris: Tell me what the main point of Indiecron is?
Edwin: The main point is to facilitate success for these creators and give a central clearing house for consumers to rapidly find this stuff. Our principles are this; first, we need to foster and encourage an atmosphere of mutual respect between creators and consumers. It has to go both ways. Secondly, we need to always strive for professionalism. That manifests in a bunch of different ways. If you are offering up a product for purchase by someone, you’re engaging in a fundamental business activity. Now you can be quirky, you can be performative, you can be entertaining, but it is a business activity and you need to be professional. So you need to have a plan, you need to have a budget, you need to consider the costs, you need to ensure that people are going to be paid, and above all you need to deliver that product to people in an acceptable time frame.
Third, we have an unwavering commitment to protecting people’s personal and private information, whether that’s correspondence or contact information such as address, phone, or anything like that. Indiecron doesn’t collect any information about the backers of the books beyond the amount of backers which we collect from Indiegogo’s API. And finally, and most importantly, we want to showcase current and upcoming projects and maintain a historical record of those Comicsgate projects.
Chris: What’s your take on Comicsgate, Edwin?
Edwin: Comicsgate is a consumer-centric movement that wishes to see mutual respect between consumers, and producers and creators of comic books. It’s a movement that believes the comic producers need to show fundamental respect to the consumers and abandon a course of agenda. Companies and creators should no longer impose their political ideology on the consumers and instead should foster an environment of trust, creativity, and respect.
Chris: We’ve been covering this kind of culture in the comics industry for years now, and it seems to continue unabated. And people who are new to the term seem to get caught up in competing narratives about what it’s about, which side is spreading hate, etc. Even some pros like Gail Simone (who refers to Comicsgate allies as ‘gaters’) seem to regularly insult and belittle the movement, further poisoning the well. What say you?
Edwin: Here’s what I would say. Every person has to decide what is important to them. In my model, Comicsgate is consumer-driven. So people who wish to interact with CG-ers or do business with people or creators within this movement, need to understand there are varying perspectives within this group and they will have to either respect, or at least acknowledge that.
Within Comicsgate, you have various nodes. You have vastly popular entertainers and creators, and all kinds of people doing groovy things. But at the end of the day, the prime mover is always the consumer. Each and every one of those people has the right and a responsibility to speak for themselves, and the consumers also have a right to speak with their wallets.
Chris: Tell me about your role at Indiecron.
Edwin: I am what you would call the manager or Chief Ambassador. The origins of Indiecron began as a spreadsheet that I made for myself to compare the success of various crowdfunded books to track metrics and then compare those to corporate comics in order to get a sense of scale and measure how well, and how quickly, some of these indie books were growing in sales. I would share this spreadsheet with others and along the way I asked Jon Del Arroz if we could host the information on his blog to share it with more people.
Chris: Is Jon still involved?
Chris: Tell me what you see in the immediate future for Indiecron?
Edwin: Expanding our review panel first and foremost. We need to get out ambassador program ready. We’re working on some policies and codes of conduct and certain protocols so that we can grow the team of passionate supporters who can help grow this platform for other creators. Every Indicron ambassador will carry on the goal of facilitating people’s success.
Chris: Who is the current core team?
Edwin: Right now it’s myself, and PixelTraitor. Ben Henderson has also helped us out in terms of cyber-security and other features.
Chris: Does a creator have to align with Comicsgate in order to be listed?
Edwin: Yes, but barrier to entry is low. All it takes is for the person in charge of the campaign to tell us they are with Comicsgate. We aren’t a tribunal and most comics aren’t made by one person, but if the person running the crowdfunding campaign says they are Comicsgate, that’s good enough for us. We have a lot of confidence in the community itself to do an excellent job of determining who’s who in this industry. This audience has shown itself to be able to make informed buying decisions and we have a very high opinion of the consumers who use our website.
And to be clear, Indiecron is not a monetized website. We don’t have ‘customers’ – we have ‘consumers’ that visit our website. We are currently working on another project called IndieFocused which I can tell you more about later, and it will offer things like printing services and the like for creators. It will also be more of a broad based platform for creators of all stripes, but Indiecron will always be a free platform that provides consumers with a central hub to find Comicsgate projects and to track their progress.
Chris: That sounds solid, Edwin. I feel an independent creator renaissance coming and I this seems like the bleeding-edge of what’s yet to come for independent comic creators.
Edwin: I agree and we want to spotlight examples of success and help educate these creators so they can start off on the right foot, and even if they have to copy a template from what’s out there that’s already working, the pitch, the phrasing, and so on, we would encourage that because we want these creators to present well and ultimately to reach their goals. I don’t criticize their work, their creation, their writing, and so on because I don’t want to make any off-hand comment that puts me in a position of being a detriment to somebody’s dream, but I do want them to present well. Creators must be the captain of their own ship, but if Indiecron can facilitate their success, we’d love to do that.
Chris: Thanks for your time, Edwin and good luck! We’re rooting for you and all these creators. Let us know if we can do anything to help.
Edwin: Thanks Bleeding Fool!
Pop culture world might always be dominated by big budget superhero movies and TV shows, but long time comic consumers are starting to desire something different. And as such, this effort and others like it that feature independent creators is satisfying that craving. This is excellent news for those who value the creativity and innovation that continues to go on outside the confines of the comic industry giants.
Please check out Indiecron.com today to see what crowdfunding projects you may be interested in backing. Believe me, there are several.